The third match of the World Chess Championship turned into an epic battle Monday night with the experts debating whether the game would be declared a draw, or whether Gary Kasparov and Antoly Karpov would decide to fight Tuesday night.

They did, and after playing 1 1/2 hours Tuesday and 13 more moves, they declared it a draw.Titleholder Kasparov and challenger Karpov brawled for five hours in a flamboyant duel that has already been declared a classic.

As usual, Kasparov spurned the role of defender playing black and launched a lightening attack that included the sacrifice of his queen - his most powerful piece.

Chess experts were stunned by Kasparov's boldness.

"It's incredible, just incredible," world junior chess champion Ilya Gurevich said. "The most spectacular idea ever played at this level," said the Dutch grandmaster Gert Ligterink.

Nevertheless, Karpov's renowned defensive skills allowed him to hang on and suddenly escape in the closing seconds of the five-hour session.

Kasparov, with only a few minutes separating him from a loss by forfeit (time pressure) blundered away his superiority with a few, rash, hurried moves.

When the smoke cleared, the position was transformed into one of chaos, and the experts were divided in their assessment.

After a night of analysis, the majority of grandmasters preferred Karpov's chances but felt that the draw was most likely. Dissenters predicted a win for Kasparov could still be found, an indication of the complexity of the adjourned position.

Kasparov's ninth move shocked the grandmasters who realized that it committed the champion to a loss of key pieces at a remarkably early stage of the game.

Kasparov's opening ploy involved sacrificing a rook for a bishop. While the grandmasters were shaking their heads in bewilderment over the move, the champion stunned them even further by sacrificing his queen for a bishop and a knight, a tremendous disparity in forces.

The champion's bold pyrotechnics left Karpov rooted onstage, working furiously to make sense of the mind-boggling complications.

Grandmasters assumed this display of chess fireworks had been deeply thought out by Kasparov, whose assistants strolled around the playing hall looking unruffled by the consternation around them.

The third game had been postponed at Karpov's request after he crashed to defeat defending the black pieces in the second game.

Sources close to the challenger said that Karpov had been sleeping badly since his arrival in New York and needed the rest gained by postponing this game from its scheduled date last Friday.

Although relaxed, Karpov did not appear refreshed from the timeout and looked listless and hollow-eyed.

Experts said that any of Karpov's regained energy would have been directed toward neutralizing Kasparov's superior preparations in the opening stage of the game.

When play began, Kasparov peered intently at his rival before repeating the risky King's Indian defense that he employed in the first game of the title duel.

The match for the winner's share of a record $3 million is being played at the venerable Hudson Theater, in the Hotel Macklowe on West 44th Street, just off Times Square.

They will continue to play at the Hudson on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for five weeks or until they complete 12 games. Then they move on to Lyon, France, for the second half of the tournament.

It takes 12 1/2 points to win the match. Each victory is worth one point and a draw a half-point. In case of a 12-12 tie, Kasparov retains his title, although the record-breaking $3 million prize money would be split.

The previous rule that six victories would also determine the champion has been dropped because that could conceivably deprive the co-sponsor, the city of Lyon, of a fair part of the match.

Thus, if after 10 games, one player has six points, or if, after 11 games, one player has 6 1/2, the New York segment of the contest will end and the Lyon segment will begin.

In Moscow, the match has received front page coverage in every paper and is being shown constantly on television (with a so-called "floating" set and board).

(The above compiled from various news services.)

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